Octavio Paz Biography


(World Poets and Poetry)

Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City. His mother, Josephina Lozano, was of Spanish extraction, while the family of his father, Octavio, was both Mexican and Indian. Paz was a precocious youngster, influenced by his politically active grandfather, a journalist and writer, whose twelve-thousand-volume library provided the necessary material for his intellectual development. Paz’s father was a lawyer who joined Emiliano Zapata during the 1910 Mexican Revolution and represented him in America. After secondary school, Paz studied from 1932 to 1937 at the National University of Mexico. In 1931, he founded Barandal, the first of his many journals. He also began to publish his poetry, and in 1933, Luna silvestre, his first collection, appeared; in the same year, he also founded his second journal, Cuadernos del valle de Mexico. In 1937, Paz attended a conference in Spain; after the conference, he decided to remain there for a year. His allegiance was, naturally, to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. In 1938, he passed through Paris, where he met Alejo Carpentier and Robert Desnos; Paz’s firsthand encounter with the Surrealists was particularly decisive, and their profound influence on his subsequent work cannot be overestimated.

In 1938, Paz returned to Mexico, where he worked with Spanish political refugees, wrote on political matters for El popular, and founded Taller. A fourth...

(The entire section is 566 words.)

Octavio Paz Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Octavio Paz (pahz) was born in Mexico City, Mexico, on March 31, 1914, the son of Octavio Paz, a mestizo, and Josephina Lozano, a woman of Spanish descent. His father, a lawyer and journalist who defended the peasant revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and helped implement agrarian reform in Mexico after the revolution, made Paz aware of social justice issues. Paz grew up in his grandfather’s house in the small village of Mixoac. His grandfather, a popular novelist, introduced Paz to literature. Paz also lived and attended school in the United States for almost two years while his father was in political exile during the Mexican Revolution.

Paz began his literary career in his late teens, publishing his first book of poems, Luna silvestre, in 1933. He reacted against the fierce nationalism dominant in Mexican culture after the revolution and allied himself with Mexican poets interested in world literature. Nonetheless, he was very concerned about Mexico’s identity and future in the revolution’s aftermath. In 1937, Paz went to Yucatán to work in a rural school, leaving behind his university studies. He did not want to be a doctor or lawyer as his family desired. He wanted to be a poet whose poetry would help to change the world.

In 1937, Paz also went to Spain in support of the Spanish Republic. After trying unsuccessfully to enlist as a soldier to fight in Spain’s civil war, he defended the Spanish Republic with his poetry. He met many poets in Spain: Pablo Neruda, César Vallejo, Antonio Machado, and Stephen Spender, among others.

Paz returned to Mexico in 1938, determined to further the cause of the Spanish Republic through Taller (1938-1941), a literary magazine that he edited. With the Spanish Republic’s defeat, a disillusioned Paz realized that political action could not save the world from evil. He turned to poetry as a means for changing the world for the better, believing that poetry opposes evil by creating an alternative reality with language.

In 1943, Paz left Mexico to travel extensively for two years in the United States on a Guggenheim Fellowship. He entered the Mexican diplomatic service in 1945 and was stationed in Paris from 1946 to 1951. While in Paris, he became friends with André Breton, the founder of Surrealism. Paz was...

(The entire section is 945 words.)

Octavio Paz Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Octavio Paz’s poetry champions the ecstasy that takes people beyond the tyranny of time, history, and alienation. The poet redeems his isolated individuality through a union with woman. Poetry allows the poet to experience oneness beyond time and language. Paz sees poetry as the antidote to the isolation and spiritual desolation of humankind in the modern world. The need to escape isolation and alienation is also a central theme of his acclaimed prose work, The Labyrinth of Solitude.

For Paz, writing poetry is an ethical act that contributes to the creation of a better world. Through his poetry, he seeks to liberate language, the reader, and the poet, so that all are able to experience a primal unified reality beyond the layers of dead language and alienated egos that bring so much suffering to life.

Octavio Paz Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

No Mexican writer did more to explore and celebrate the mysteries of Mexican life than poet and essayist Octavio Paz (pahz), considered to be the leading twentieth century interpreter of his country’s complex civilization. Paz’s poems explore life’s illusions and fragmented realities, the problem of language, the innocent individual, humankind’s loss of connection with nature and its rhythms, and the disordered, dislocated modern world. Known primarily as a poet, Paz also distinguished himself as a diplomat and essayist, delving into such areas as religion, philosophy, and politics in the course of his work.

Born into a family of intellectuals in Mexico City, Paz inherited a literary tradition through his grandfather, Irineo Paz, a newspaper publisher and novelist. His father practiced law and briefly published one of the first Spanish-language newspapers in Los Angeles, California, where the family lived for a year in the early 1920’s as political exiles. Upon returning to Mexico, his father fell victim to a political assassination and Paz, an only child, was left alone with his widowed mother.

By the 1930’s Paz had become a leading voice of a new generation of Mexican intellectuals. After completing the course of study in law at the National University, he abruptly abandoned law and Mexico, failing to turn in his final thesis and traveling to Spain during the Spanish Civil War. There, he became part of the tragic intellectual venture that culminated in the fall of the Spanish Republic. As a witness to the deaths of fellow writers, exponents of the noblest expressions of language and culture, and the destruction of human values and ideals, Paz found his poetic voice and published his first two books. They received immediate recognition. Upon his return to Mexico, he collaborated in founding two important literary journals, Taller and El hijo pródigo.

During the 1940’s Paz traveled to the United States on a Guggenheim Fellowship and studied at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1944 to 1945, then lived briefly in New York. The distance created by the English language and Anglo-American culture sowed the seeds for the...

(The entire section is 897 words.)

Octavio Paz Biography

(Poetry for Students)

Octavio Paz was born in Mexico City in 1914. His grandfather was a writer, one of the first Mexican writers to write a novel about Indians....

(The entire section is 365 words.)

Octavio Paz Biography

(Literature of Developing Nations for Students)

Paz enjoyed a distinguished career as a diplomat, playwright, essayist, and poet, and is regarded as one of the greatest writers and...

(The entire section is 944 words.)

Octavio Paz Biography

(Short Stories for Students)

Octavio Paz was born on March 31, 1914, in Mexico City, Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. His father, a lawyer, worked for the...

(The entire section is 306 words.)